Alberto Burri – part 1


An updated and enlarged post on Alberto Burri that replaces a post from April 2011.

Alberto Burri (1915 – 1995) was an Italian painter and sculptor. Burri was born in Umbria, Italy in 1915. He gained a medical degree from the University of Perugia specialising in tropical medicine. In 1940, two days after Italy entered World War II, he was called up as a medic and was sent to Libya in 1943. In May 1944 after the defeat of the Axis forces, his unit was captured in Tunisia and he was interned in Camp Howze prisoner-of-war camp in Gainesville, Texas, where he began to paint. His first paintings were views of the desert he could see from the prison camp and still life’s with paints and canvases supplied by the YMCA. He primarily painted "nostalgic Umbrian landscapes and figures", as Milton Gendel described in an ArtNewsissue published in 1954. He collected old burlap sacks and brought them with him upon his return to Italy and continued to use them in place of canvas. He continued to use burlap, having a supply from the local miller.

After his release in 1946, Burri moved to Rome to pursue a full-time career as painter, despite the disapproval of most his friends and family. He joined his cousin, a musician and sole supporter in his decision, who helped to connect him with the Roman art circles. However he was a very private and solitary artist, working incessantly. He incorporated unusual materials like plastic cements, resin, zinc oxide, pumice and kaolin, tar and PVC adhesives in his paintings, reflect his affinity for science. Although he distanced himself from Arte Informale, the prominent artistic movement in Italy at the time, much of his work was based on Informale aesthetic and ideas, and today he is generally recognized as an Arte Informale artist.

In the mid-1950s, Burri introduced charred wood into his burlap works, followed by scrap iron sheets fixed onto the wood, as well as coloured and transparent sheets of plastic. In the 1970s he began his "cracked" paintings, or cretti. He created a series of works in the industrial material, Cellotex, from 1979 through the 1990s. In the 1980s, Burri created a form of land art project on the town of Gibellina in Sicily. The town was abandoned following an earthquake in 1968, with the inhabitants being rehoused in a newly built town 18 km away. Burri covered an area of over 120,000 square metres (1,300,000 sq ft), most of the old town, and an area roughly 300 metres by 400 metres with white concrete. He called this the Grande Cretto.


Grande Cretto, Gibellina, Sicily
Burri was awarded the Italian Order of Merit in 1994. He died, aged 79, in Nice, France. His birthplace of Città di Castello has a large permanent museum of his works.
Biographical facts on Alberto Burri from Wikipedia

This is part 1 of a 2-part post on the works of Alberto Burri:

1946 Procession of the Dead Christ © Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini, Collezione Burri © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1946-47 Untitled (Adam and Eve) oil on canvas 50 x 40 cm © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1947 Upper Piazza © Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini, Collezione Burri © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1949 SZ1 © Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini, Collezione Burri © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1951 Nero e Oro mixed media on masonite 31.8 x 55.6 cm © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1952 Grande Sacco © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1952 Sacco mixed media oil & collage on canvas 9.2 x 11.7 cm © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1952 Sacco © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1952 Untitled © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1953 Composition oil & gold on burlap © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1953 Sacco © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1953 Sacco © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1953 Sacco 5P 50 x 42.9 cm © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1953 Sacco & Stone © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1953 Sacco e Oro burlap & gold on canvas © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1953 Sacco L.A. burlap acrylic on canvas 100.6 x 86 cm © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1953 Sacco mixed media 86 x 100 cm © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1954 Grande Sacco sack 150 x 250 cm © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1954 Sacco © Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Città di Castello (Perugia) © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1954 Sacking and Red acrylic paint & hessian on canvas 86.4 x 100.3 cm © Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Città di Castello (Perugia) © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1955 Composition in White © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1955 Sacco e Nero 3 © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1955 Sacco Nero Rosso sack, canvas, fabrics, paper, acrylics, polyvinyl acetate on canvas treated with polyvinyl acetate 50 x 85 cm © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1956 Legno e Rosso 3 painted canvas covered with lacquered bark 158.8 x 87.6 cm © President and Fellows of Harvard College © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1957 Untitled © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1958 Combustione Plastica burnt plastic & acrylic on canvas © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1958 Ferro D 52.4 x 102.4 cm © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1958 Ferro iron & painted wood on iron 51.8 x 43.5 cm © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1958 Ferro © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1958 Gran Ferro M1 welded iron, paint & nails 200 x 198.1 cm  © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1958 Grande Sacco © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1958 Sacco © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1959 Combustione (C4) oil, paper collage & combustion on paper laid down on canvas 45.4 x 57.5 cm © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1959 Ferro SP4 100 x 86 cm Photo credit © Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Città di Castello (Perugia) © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS 

1959 Gran Ferro M3 welded iron, paint & nails 199.6 x 189.5 © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

1959 Sacco e Rosso © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome / 2013 DACS

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